On Sunday I had the privilege of attending the 2016 Dig IN: Taste of Indiana food festival in downtown Indianapolis. It was the perfect Sunday afternoon activity on a gorgeous (and hot!) day. My roommate Danielle came with me to be my partner in tasting and devouring all the bites. We spent the afternoon roaming from tent to tent to try the dishes from 30 different local chefs. The festival was designed to bring together local famers, chefs, brewers, vintners and food enthusiasts to savor the tastes of Indiana. They all emphasize the importance of buying and eating locally, especially in a state with rich agricultural heritage. It was incredible because some of my most favorite dishes from the festival were the simple ones featuring the fresh, local produce.
Best of Produce
The Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho Salad from Napolese was absolutely something I would make for lunch one day. Imagine all the ingredients you would usually put in a gazpacho soup (cucumber, tomato, onion) in a rustic salad with fresh dill. Watermelon Soup with Pickled Rind Relish from Local Eatery and Pub was incredibly refreshing on the hot summer day. At first the flavors were sweet, but then were quickly followed by the heat of a pepper and a creamy pungent goat cheese bite.
Watermelon took another twist in a Summer Watermelon Lassi from Spice Box. I had never tried lassi before, but learned that it is an Indian yogurt-based drink. The watermelon blended with yogurt and mint was incredibly refreshing. While similar to a smoothie, it was much lighter and frothier. The Blueberry Corn Salad with Pancetta was also something I would love to recreate with fresh Indiana produce. I loved the variety of textures – a pop of crunch from the corn, sweetness from the blueberries, salty, crispy pancetta, earthy walnuts and crisp iceberg lettuce.
My favorite savory dish of the day would have to be the Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese from The Northside Social. Getting a bite of the tangy barbecue meat with the creamy mac and cheese was a perfect balance. The sprinkle of goat cheese as the finishing touch was an unexpected tart contrast to the melted, creamy cheese. Bee Coffee Roasters’ Coffee Sugar Cream Pie (not pictured because I inhaled it so quickly) was my second favorite sweet dish. Imagine a crunchy graham cracker like crust topped with a creamy caramel like filling with a touch of espresso flavor. I’m really hoping they serve this at their coffee shop downtown so I can experience it again. Finally, my favorite of the whole day was the Corn Cake with a Peach-Blueberry topping with Husk Cream topped with popcorn from Vida. I loved the balance of the corn flavors with the sweetness from the fruit. The husk cream was so light, but almost savory with the corn flavor. I am heading to Vida to eat this again – and more than a bite size version!
Tips for Next Year
The one thing I wished I would have better prepared for was the heat. My weather app said it felt like 100 degrees, plus humidity! Next year if the weather is as hot, I would honestly recommend wearing workout clothes and a hat. No need to get all fancy with a cute outfit because we were drenched by the end of the day.
As Danielle and I were walking around, we also noticed people with their picnic blankets. They would pick up a few different foods to sample, bring them back to their blanket in the shade, sit and enjoy those dishes as if it were a little picnic and then repeat.
Last but not least, absolutely invest in the Early Entry or VIP tickets. Then, be sure to get there 15-30 minutes early. When we arrived around 11 am, there was already a line all the way around the block to get in even with the early entry pass. The earlier you go, the shorter the lines and the more time you have to talk with each of the vendors, enjoy the cooler weather and try all the dishes before the crowds arrive. The lines took a noticeable turn at noon when the general admission ticket holders arrived!
I hope to experience more Indiana community events like this in the fall. Every weekend that I’m home I also want to make an effort to purchase my produce locally because of the noticeably fresh flavor and investment into the community. Thank you, DigIN for putting on a great event and inviting me to join.
Love food. Love self. Love life.